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Workers Launch Campaign Petitioning To Keep Tips At US Cellular Center

There’s a new campaign workers have launched through Asheville Sustainable Restaurant Workforce

Workers at the US Cellular Center and the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium — the largest multi-purpose event spaces in Asheville, NC — are calling on the management to let concession patrons leave tips and allow concession workers to keep them. Check out the campaign here!

Imagine you’re at one of a show at one of these venue and you find yourself thirsty for a cold one.  You’ve got cash and you pay for your awesome, local craft beer. You leave $1 or $2 a for the person who poured your beer. But where does that tip actually go? Prior to 2015, it used to go into a “tip pool” that was divided among set-up staff who got (20%) off the top. The remaining was divided up between concession bartending staff at (30%) and (70%) for non-profit volunteers working concessions for donations.

In September of 2015, the City decided to give these part-time seasonal City workers a raise to Asheville’s living wage of $12.50 per hour. Full-time City workers got that raise in 2007, so this move was long overdue and praised by community groups and City Council alike. While everyone was applauding the move, the General Manager of the Cellular Center stated the new policy that “the tips will go away.” This policy went into effect and employees were made to sign a document confirming they would no longer accept ANY tips and if they got caught ‘pocketing’ them, they could be fired.

The responsibility of relaying the non-tipping policy is left to the worker, busy pouring beer, making change and managing the crowds. Patrons are often confused and annoyed. Workers report some are just insistent, sticking money in their pockets. Workers report they receive NO CASH TIPS and participating non-profits get ALL CASH TIPS whether there is a donation sign or not. That can be hundreds of dollars patrons think are going to staff but clearly are not.

The Asheville Sustainable Restaurant Workforce is asking that the US Cellular Center management and the Civic Center Commission allow workers to retain some of the tips they earn at concession stands. It’s bad customer service If patrons want to tip and are barred. Plus, it’s combative to workers who fear job loss if they keep any of their tips. We need tip transparency and these workers deserve their tips, regardless of their hourly pay rate.

Interested in joining the campaign? Sign this petition for change!

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